Aid on Way to Irma-Battered Islands as Death Toll Rises

The almost 400-mile-wide Hurricane Irma roared into the mostly cleared-out Florida Keys and then began a slow march up the state’s west coast on Sunday.

“Since Hurricane “Irma” hit Cuba we had received information about 10 deaths in Havana and in the provinces of Matanzas, Camaguey, and Ciego-de-Avila”, the office noted. I can’t even begin to describe the utter devastation around.

The US national hurricane centre had warned on Saturday that Jose was nearing category five strength – the highest rating for a storm – bringing fears of more destruction for islands in the eastern Caribbean such as Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla days after they had taken the full brunt of Irma. Many Barbuda have been evacuated ahead of Jose.

The situation worsened Saturday with the passage of Category 4 Hurricane Jose, which shuttered airports and halted emergency boat traffic through the weekend.

St. Martin, an 87-square kilometer island split roughly in half between the French overseas territory of St. Martin and Dutch-administered St. Maarten, has suffered property damage and power outages. “I think the atmosphere now is relief, knowing it is past and the building is still there and everyone is OK”, said the British woman, wearing a colorful pareo over her swimsuit. French President Emmanuel Macron was expected in the Caribbean on Tuesday. In a blog post, he said “every island” in the British Virgin Islands had been devastated, including his own private isle, Necker. The island is home to about 72,000 people.

Branson said the British government had a “massive role to play” in rebuilding its territories, including the British Virgin Islands, an offshore financial center. Tortola, the largest and most populated island has seen the most extensive damage. Collomb added that France has worked for the past 48 hours on water delivery to affected neighborhoods and food supplies are being provided. Earlier in the day, the mainly British guests on inclusive package tours with operator Thomas Cook had cleaned up the pool, put sunbeds back in their place and helped workers clear away the fallen trees and branches, everyone mucking in.

He said he was writing from Puerto Rico, where had traveled to mobilize aid efforts, and said he would be returning to the Virgin Islands soon for recovery work.

Puerto Rico, an unincorporated U.S. territory, managed to avoid a direct hit from Irma but suffered strong winds and torrential rains.

Three people were killed by the storm in Puerto Rico, and hundreds of thousands were left without electricity – prompting Donald Trump to issue a disaster declaration. The Turks and Caicos’ capital island of Grand Turk suffered “quite a bit of damage”, including to part of a hospital’s roof, Gov. John Freeman told CNN on Friday.

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